Asobi ni Iku Yo! Episode 1 and 2

Wow, what a way to introduce a harem anime!

Alien girl comes freeloading in an innocent boy’s home.

Alien girl gets abducted by a US secret service.

Boy goes to rescue with the help of two spy girls who have a crush on him.

I’m sold, totally sold. Too bad the normal harem anime bits is going to be pale when compared to these action filled episodes.

Meet Elis, a cat-girl bombshell from outer space with a taste for culinary delicacy.

They sure make very clear what this show is about from the start.

Kio, the main guy, is a typical innocent lucky bastard.

In episode 2, he get a moment to show some manliness.

I take it back. He’s actually a pervert.

Kinjou Manami is the osananajimi who aspires to be a spy.
Not as well endowed body-wise and ability-wise as Elis,
but she kicks more asses IMHO. Scary as hell because
she knows EVERYTHING about you.

Futaba Aoi seems like a quiet and shy girl, but she’s actually
Ark Momiji, a secret agent in a power suit who can materialize weapons
from thin air. Of course, her love for Kio-kun always gets in
the way of her missions.

The two girls team up to help the helpless Kio rescue Elis.

LOL! I can has some Snake momentz here?

But Elis seems to be just fine by herself, with the help
of her Assistroids and material-canceling hammers.

Finally, more cat girls are coming!!!

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School Swimsuit Youmu and GeekTool

In the week before the last, I discovered two wonderful things from the internet. The first is the following wallpaper of Konpaku Youmu:

What makes this wallpaper awesome is how Sakuya Tuitachi, the illustrator, shade the swimsuit. (Nudge nudge, wink wink, say no more.) The flowery background was put together by Ryo Hiiragi of I.S.W Designing, who also made the white swimsuit version available for download. His website features many wallpapers that combine moe and design to great effects. However, I couldn’t find any direct links to the Youmu ones there, so scroll to the end of the post for the links.

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Today’s Nico Nico: CNNwwwww

The famous Bad Apple!! monochrome PV made it to CNN, but the best thing was that the anchor claimed it was made by stop motion photography.

Apparently, the original PV was made using a 3D software because you wouldn’t get antialiasing and detailed rotations otherwise. The guy who made the stop motion version below just printed the 6566 screenshots and photographed them one by one. (See the making movie below.) He even wrote 「CNNさん、勘弁してくれ、、、」 (trans: CNN-san, give me a break.) in his video comment.

By the way, do you know how the PV came into being? It all started with this video:

This guy had a great idea for a Bad Apples!! PV, so he made a crude storyboard video, and asked people to make the full version for him. One interesting requirement was that Nitori, Alice, and Suika were supposed to be in an onsen, which the monochrome PV completely ignored altogether. Now, the original video is tagged 「うp主は幸せ者」(trans: the uploader is a happy man) because there have been at least 60 artists who offered their labor to render it. See the list for yourself

Before the monochrome version made a splash, there were already a number of famous versions out there. The most famous one features detailed and stylish art, and has gathered more than 1 million hits.

Two months before the above video was uploaded, the same maker uploaded another version. The selling point was that all the characters were scantily clad.

My favorite save the monochrome version is this one below because it’s jam packed with memes.

Technically released after the monochrome version, but who cares?

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Today’s NicoNico: Nadeko Festival

Nadeko Snake DVD was released today, and the limited edition comes with Renai Circulation CD. Of course, the full version of the music was uploaded to NicoNico, and it is now ranking #1.

The song is very cute and addictive. The middle part of the song where Nadeko whispers “Ko-i-su-ru O-to-me-wa…” gave me goose bumps.

Department of MikuMikuDance

And now we have a full 3DCG promotion video with Nadeko in her full school swimsuit glory!

Lolicon Hoi Hoi

Department of Touhou

Ripua (りぷあ) is one of the Touhou video makers in NicoNico who is best known for his/her love for Shikieiki Yamaxanadu. Back in October last year, he released a parody of Slayers TRY ED “Don’t be Discouraged” featuring Kaeidzuka characters, but with some uncolored frames. Today, the fully colored version was uploaded:

For the curious, a side-by-side comparison with the original is also available:

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Today’s Nico Nico

Extremely well done Rail Gun/Chaos;HEAD crossover MAD

Jump’s Mangaka drew Naruto to celebrate the manga’s 10th anniversary.
Personal Favourites: Takeshi Obata of Bakuman and Yabuki Kentarou of Rurouni Kenshin (precisely because there’s Kenshin in the picture)

Department of MikuMikuDance

Akitsuki Ryou and SAkurai Yumeko do Shibashii Nettaigyou
Love the background and the self-shadow.

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○○ is traing…

A new meme is emerging from Fight! Ippatsu Juuden-chan’s ED. It’s called the ○○がトレーニング (lit: xxx is training) series. The meme itself doesn’t have anything much, really. Just some scantily-clad girls running on treadmills. (Read: a recipe for success!)

Of course, when a meme is born, the Touhou girls are the first to be mashed up with it…

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Eden of the East #05-#06: The Plight of the Sugo-Ude NEETs

Episode #06 is probably the one that I can relate to the most. I studied computer science in college, and have been fascinated with the success of Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Paul Graham, Mark Zuckerberg, etc. These people, well, made big business with innovation and basically changed how we interact with information to some degree. So what the Eden of the East circle have in their hands here? Rather, what wouldn’t Eric Schmidt or Steve Ballmer give to acquire EotE?

So here comes a sad part. Despite having one of the most awesome technologies in the IT world, EotE’s business doesn’t fly. They get bogged down by trivial issues like Saki’s getting emo or one user’s dropping out of college because EotE doesn’t seem to work to well for her as an online matchmaking tool. This is kind of understandable because, at first, they didn’t have any other use of the search engine besides tagging recycled goods. Moreover, only Hirasawa is serious in making the struggling EotE a real business before they all met Akira. I have to admit that I’m disappointed with Hirasawa though: despite having studied economics for 4 years, he doesn’t even know that venture capitalists do exist to help make this very kind of business possible.

Notice the career paths of the new graduates choose and how they perceive themselves. Saki and Ohsugi supposedly left the club to search for jobs like other “respected members of the society.” On the other hand, Hirasawa who decides to stay another year to see the business through labels himself as a “NEET.” Episode #05 basically tells us that being a NEET like Hirasawa is definitely better than working for someone who would drop gyuudon on your skirt.

The writer, though, distinguishes two kinds of NEETs: those “loser NEETs” Akira sent to Dubai and those Hirasawa calls “sugo-ude NEETs” (すご腕ニート, lit: NEET with great ability). It seems that the writer sees the loser NEETs as not willing to engage with society out of their own ignorance. He just wants them to just come out of their rooms to experience the real world, and believes that things are going to go well beyond expectation, like how one of the NEET found himself a bride in just 3 months.

Sugo-ude NEETs are those like Saki and Hirasawa. They are capable and resourceful, but refuses to go to the job marker for some reasons. Saki has a talent of seeing values of seemingly useless things. Moreover, she was successful at job hunting once, but rejected the offer just because she’s disgusted by how the company exploits young people. Hirasawa got six job offers, but rejected all of them to figure out how to start his own business.

I think the writer wants to tell the Japanese society that the system does not work well for creative individuals. There is a constant pressure that forces everyone to a mold of a typical “shakaijin”: having a respectable job at a company and working your ass off for it. And this is what being “socially responsible” is about. Saki went for an interview again, though she didn’t really want to, because she didn’t want to be a burden to her family. Yet, the system confines individuals’ potential and does not give the proper respect and compensation to young people. On the contrary, not joining the workforce is, as Ohsugi puts it, only possible if your family is rich. All in all, people who chose to be like Hirasawa are labeled as NEETs, a burden to society, regardless of what their reasons are.

The subtitle of East of Eden reads 「この国の”空気”に戦いを挑んだひとりの男の子と、彼を見守った女の子のたって11日間の物語」 (lit: an 11 days long story of a boy who picks fight with this country’s “atmosphere” and the girl who watches after him.) It would seem that “atmosphere” that Akira tries to fight is the corporate culture and the overall attitude that don’t give young people a say on how to start their career, forcing them to be sugo-ude NEETs rather than respectable shakaijin. A nobel goal indeed. I wonder how he’s going to do it because funding EotE is just helping just one group of sugo-ude NEETs realize their dream. Certainly, this will look impressive to neither the Supporter nor Mr.Outside. But, hey, who knows what’s going to happen next? Perhaps Akira has some outrageous plan in his head already.

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Eden of the East #02

We learned that Noblesse Oblige cellphone is nothing magical, but it makes things happen with the power of money. Kondou Yuusei, the debt-ridden cop is introduced, and he will be after Akira cellphone’s in the next episodes. Would this mean that Kondou would be killed by the Supporter soon?  Or… If he can see how another Selecao uses money, does it mean he’s the Supporter himself?

Kondou Yuusei finger-guns hit debtor.

Three lives at the price of 1,500,000 Yen.

Most part of the episode is about Saki’s following Akira around Tokyo. He’s heading to Toyosu, which is the address in his passport, to figure out who he is. Saki proactively goes after him, asking him to go for coffee and making a sad face when they’re about to part ways. Akira goes along with Saki’s advance and acts just like a prince charming. It feels just like watching a Josei-oriented anime (which is not a bad thing at all).

We also learn a bit about Saki’s and Akira’s past. Saki’s parents died in an accident and she’s now under care of her sister and her husband, Yousuke, whom Saki says an honest man. After listening to Saki’s story, Akira recovered some memory of his own. It would seems he lost his mother when he was young.

Story-wise, this is an uneventful episode, and it is nowhere as exciting as the first. Animation quality also seems to drop somewhat. Still, I like it. (I didn’t expect anything much from this episode after all.) The atmosphere they build around Saki and Akira is very nice, and I also find Saki likeable as a character.

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Eden of the East #01

When I saw the preview and read the story premise of Eden of the East, I became super excited and went into gosh-I-cannot-wait-for-it-to-air-gyaaaaaaa mode. I totally expected the first episode to blow me away. It didn’t, and I’m now in denial.

By all means, it’s not that the first episode is bad. The animation is more than rock solid. The background is gorgeous. The acting and the reaction between characters are enjoyable. It’s just that everything significant is already in the preview. I was expecting to learn more about the cellphone and that other car driving Selecao, but the episode gave me nothing. Arrggghhhh…..

The first episode focuses on the encounter between Morimi Saki and Takizawa Akira in DC. It would seem that Akira’s being naked and losing memory are all premeditated: he even instructed Juiz to give him no information except where he’s supposed to be next. (Smells like Yagami Light, hmm?) In his room, there are M-60s, multiple Japanese passports bearing his face, and a photo of him taken from above a large group of nakedman with a writing 「殺す!」 (lit: Kill!). In the anime’s web site, the photo in question is tagged with ニート失踪事件 (lit: NEET disappearance incident) in which 20,000 young NEETs suddenly disappeared without trace from Japan. Wow, so did Akira masacre those guys to save his country? If so, he’s so much more looney than I expected. Interestingly, he doesn’t seem to care much about who his previous self was, being only mildly surprised at the possibility that he might have been killing people and all.

The Messiah saved Japan by getting rid of NEETs.

Next week, Akira will be chased a cop who also has a noblesse oblige cellphone. The cop must be Kondou Yuusei, who is said to waste the phone’s money on gambling and women, and now he has only 7,000 Yen left. It seems we will be treated to his life story here. I’d rather learn more about the missile attack and Akira’s mystery though.

I’ll continue watching the series for sure, but probably I still have to cut down on my expectation and curiosity. I want the anime to surprise me after all.

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Shangri-la #01: Kyoto Protocol, Hedge Funds, and Lolis

Seriously, Shangril-la couldn’t have chosen a better time to air than now: when the world is worried about global warming, and when the financial market is tanking. And, of course,  it’s all the better when you throw actions, and, most importantly, THREE, not just one, OUTSTANDING LOLIS to the mix.

Other observations:

  • WTF, a ban on books to preserve forest and reduce carbon emission!
  • “Don’t assume all the human knowledge is in the Internet.” — LOL. Who would have thunk that?
  • Obstruct the royal road and get bombarded by a 100 mm cannon –> That’s old.
    Burn coal to cause a disruption in the carbon market and get bombarded by a 100 mm cannon –> THAT’S NEW!
  • This is the first time I see a quant portrayed in anime, in the best form evar: a loli. Karin’s tech savvy-ness and math prowess fit the stereo type of someone whom  D. E. Shaw. would hire. Yeah, I totally dig you, D.E.Shaw-tan!
  • The conversation between D. E. Shaw-tan and Foreign Minister Abidin reminds me of the controversy around international carbon emission control. While the method used would not be a global carbon tax as in the anime, other measures such as carbon tariffs have been suggested by Steven Chu. This would certainly put burden on third-world nations (I think my country is included) and industrializing country which takes advantage of its cheap labor rather than expensive green technology *cough* China *cough*. One naturally has to wonder if such a measure is a sincere solution to global warming or just disguised protectionism. (I believe Steven Chu has good intention though.)

    Shangri-la takes the scenario further and pretty much says that third-world countries would just be bullied by global carbon tax and trading. An interesting spin is that such a trading system would give rise to a free market where people like D. E. Shaw-tan can reap a substantial amount of profit from plights of underdeveloped countries. Moreover, all carbon emitting actions like burning coal or cutting down trees have direct impact on the market, and people would be punished by lethal force if they cause too much of a market stir. Very imaginative indeed.
  • “Complexity of the market” features prominently in the episode. Shogo cannot detect D. E. Shaw-tan’s action because of market’s complexity, and Takehiko’s prediction was a flop because of market’s complexity. There are people like Ryoko who try to simplify and stabilize it, and there are also people like D. E. Shaw-tan to takes advantage of the complexity for their own ends.
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